Dana Rohrabacher, Orange County's GAN representative, met in Russia in 2015 with a woman later charged by federal officials for attempting to shape American politics in a secretive undertaking as an unregistered Kremlin agent.
– Confirmed Tuesday by Rohrabacher's office – came the same day that he told Politico that the indictment of 29-year-old Maria Butina on Monday was "wrong" and "stupid". He believes the allegations are part of a larger conspiracy by President Donald Trump's relationship with Russia.
The Department of Justice accused Butina of building channels of communication with American politicians in recent years "to invade the US national decision-making apparatus to advance the agenda of the Russian Federation".
The indictment states that Butina has held talks with a Russian official in the context of this conspiracy ̵
Rohrabacher's name appeared several times in his meetings with Kremlin people last year on Russian interference in the 2016 elections, even though he was not accused of misconduct. In 2012, Rohrabacher was warned by the FBI that Russia was trying to recruit him as a spy. And he said in the past that he assumed that Russian intelligence agents were nearby during his visits to the country. Rohrabacher's spokesman, Ken Grubbs, said Rohrabacher is uncertain whether he is the unnamed Congressman in the affidavit.
But Grubbs confirmed that Rohrabacher and an American delegation attended a breakfast with Torshin, organized by Butina, at a hotel in St. Petersburg (not Moscow) in August 2015.
Congressional records show that Rohrabacher and New York Democrat Rep. Gregory Meeks – the two leading members of the Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and New Foreign Ministry Threats – traveled to Russia from 4 August to 6 August 2015. An adviser to Meeks said the New York Congressman had not remembered a meeting with Butina and said that Meeks was there to counterbalance Rohrabacher's pro-Russian views.
Grubbs said Rohrabacher remembered Butina only as a Torshin advisor and "rather minimal and inconsequential otherwise." Rohrabacher spoke with Torshin "about a series of questions: natural resources, strategic issues," Grubbs said.
"This is what he does as chairman of the (Foreign Affairs) Subcommittee," said Grubbs. "He is very guarded in what he says and always tries to gather information, automatically assuming that the people he meets in these foreign countries can do more than their job, he did not believe that (Butina) was a great source of information Profile of a spy fits. "
Rohrabacher has alleged in the past that some in the federal government want to continue a cold war with Russia, while saying he wants to warm relations. He reiterated this assertion on Monday and told Politico that "statewide" American activists were trying to "undermine the president's ability to build better relations with Russia."
The news of Rohrabacher's connection to Butina comes only a few days Robert Müller, the Special Adviser on Russian Interference, accused a dozen Russian intelligence officials of hacking the Democrats' computers during the 2016 elections.
It also comes a day after Trump in a press conference alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin refuted the US intelligence for a petty bland and said he did not believe that Russia intervened in the 2016 presidential campaign. While Trump has now retraced his explanation by partially acknowledging Russia's interference, Rohrabacher defended Trump's comments and told Bloomberg on Monday that the US had "interfered in Russia's elections" at a much higher level than Russia.